Women and Global Leadership at Bestfoods – Discussion Questions

  1. Should the headquarters of U.S.-based multinationals promote diversity initiatives in their worldwide subsidiaries? If so, what’s the best way to accomplish this?

There is nothing wrong in U.S.-based headquarters taking the initiative for diversity promotion across other locations in the globe.  The thoughts and measures of Brody and Shoemate are instructive, for they provide a framework that all MNCs could follow.  Since American business culture and social values are somewhat different to that in the rest of the world, the HR Manager taking decisions from U.S. headquarters will have to be culturally sensitive. The HR Manager will also be cognizant of the fact that the definition of diversity is not constant across locations.  Moreover, the HR Manager will have to heed to what configurations of diversity ideally suit local teams. Actually, Bestfoods’ diversity program is a good starting point for any company trying to achieve similar goals.

  1. Do you agree with Brody’s idea to hold the forum? Why or why not? Can you suggest an alternative that would accomplish the same purpose or be even more effective?

Laura Brody’s idea of organizing a Women’s Global Leadership Forum for the company is a sound one.  Just based on the initial reactions from men and women alike augured well for the forum.  The idea of asking women regional heads to identify and invite most promising women under their charge is very creative.  It immediately created excitement and constructive competition among female employees.  The prospect of a leadership forum exclusively for their gender helped reassure many women that the top management (including Shoemate and Bergmann) were on their side. The endeavor of Brody and her team to intermingle women’s objectives with the broader goals of Bestfoods is a masterstroke. Likewise, the numerous surveys and feedbacks taken before, during and after the forum added value to the event. The surveys also provided a database for performing analysis and drawing inferences from.

  1. What challenges and problems do Brody and Shoemate face in getting their diversity strategy implemented?

When compared to institutional factors, it is attitudes and beliefs that have come in the way of implementing the diversity strategy. Men, especially senior men in the company, are quite entrenched in viewing female colleagues as subordinates. Their worldview is strengthened by the fact that they are usually the sole breadwinners for their families, with their wives assuming homemaker roles.  But as the survey results showed this mentality is not set in stone, as many men manage to accept and create harmonious relations with a female boss.  Toward the end of the forum, many of Brody’s initial apprehensions were dispelled.  The widespread consensus to the diversity initiative as well as the resounding support from Shoemate and Bergmann augur well for the success of the initiative.

1 2